A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This is what I'm on about

Interesting post over at AlterNet. It's an "insider" look at the recent "Values Voter Summit", a gathering of the Christian Right to talk politics and to take stock of the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls. Now Sarah Posner, the author, is clearly biased against the typical "values voter" present at the meeting, so you have to take what she says with a small grain of salt, but the points she illustrates are quite instructive. Namely that gay marriage seems to be the singular issue for the Christian Right these days, with terrorism, the Iraq War, the spiraling debt, and this administration's desire to torture detainees barely even registering.

All well and good, but then... well, if you plowed through the article, perhaps you plowed through the comments as well. I found them fascinating. Many, indeed most, are fairly well-written, and quite a few are thoughtful and insightful. But there are more than a few like this:
If ever anyone believes there is an Anti-Christ, then the Repugs and their religeous fascists would definitely fit that bill. They can no longer hide their horns. These fire breathing demons have been backed in a corner, so now their fake skin is melting off their bodies. Their fangs are showing and they'er foaming at the mouth. But even as ugly as they may appear, we have to stand up to those monsters. They are nothing but a bunch spineless snakes.
Very Christian, don't you think? No turning of the other cheek, that's certain, and no effort to distinguish between various "Repugs". It's not quite in the same category as Imams calling for beheadings because the Pope or Danish cartoonists claim Islam isn't a religion of peace, but the hypocrisy is a little startling-- perhaps doubly so because the whole point of the original piece is that the Christian Right isn't acting very Christian these days.

Irony. Seems to be a tough concept for fundamentalists, be they religious, political, or any other type, to grasp. I suppose it comes from the deep and abiding conviction that whatever you do is right, so therefore any inherent contradictions are irrelevant to that overriding certainty.

Question your assumptions. Listen to others-- even those that you disagree with, or whom initially get your back up or make you feel defensive. Think it through-- don't feel it through. Don't accept things blindly, be it "God is good, so blowing things up for him is good," or "Republicans have made a hash of things lately, so they must be the anti-Christ," or "Democrats are all unpatriotic, terrorist coddling communists."

The claim has often been made that ours is a Christian nation because its Founding Fathers and Mothers were Christian. There is some truth to that-- most of the prominent figures of the Revolutionary era did attend Christian churches of some denomination or another.


There is far, far more truth to the claim that our nation was founded on rationality, reason, self-sacrifice and compromise. They came awfully damn close to the Ideal when they founded our country, and in the 21st century we are all risking throwing that Ideal away because most people can't even admit that the other side isn't a bunch of stupid ignaramouses, much less that the other side might actually have some valid criticisms and constructive ideas to add.

George Washington was an eerily prescient man in many, many ways. He saw the West as the key to the country's future while most of his contemporaries were mired in the here and now of managing the original 13 colonies. He saw the importance of his stepping up to be the first President, but not king, and the even greater importance of his stepping down as President despite the fact that he could have kept the office for the rest of his life had he chosen to. He saw the value of a federalistic approach to governing the brand new United States of America-- a key feature of our country's vitality and growth.

And he despised partisan politics and all the crap that comes with it. Hated it. Saw it as destructive and incompatible with wise governing of a diverse and fractious nation.

Like I said, old George was prescient.

So, everybody take a deep breath. And take a little time to think about who you would really like to be your elected officials. Good people, smart people, people willing to work with others to solve problems and improve this great country of ours. Could be family, could be friends, could be you. Doesn't matter except that they have to be willing to stop doing business as usual and start doing business as unusual. Which includes listening to people who see things differently than they do.

Then vote for them. Write them in. For local office, state offices, for governor, for the U.S. Congress.

Send a message and take that message to heart. No more business as usual. Enough. No more blame game-- it's broke and it no longer matters who broke what. Plenty of blame to go around, so lets work together to FIX IT.

And that's what I'm on about. Probably will be for a good long while, too. 'Cause it's important.


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